Patient’s perspective - How Covid-19 impacted my chronic pain

Over these past 18 months we’ve all had to change the way we do things due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Adapting to lockdown’s, moving less and changing routines has been challenging, especially when you add chronic pain into the mix.

Pre-Covid I used swimming as one of my tools to help manage my chronic pain, being in the water took all of the strain off my joints and allowed me to keep up my muscle tone, which helps support my hypermobile joints. It was the only form of exercise I could do at the time. I’d had unsuccessful trials of following seated exercises at home, so I was glad when I realised that swimming was something that was sustainable for me. Of course, when we were plunged into the first lockdown, it was no longer an option for me.

I watched as people left their houses for their daily exercise and followed home exercise routines, the nation was being encouraged to stay moving. But, I knew that these options weren’t available to me. The movement needs of disabled people and those living with chronic pain were somewhat forgotten during the pandemic. Many people like me found their pain increasing due to lack of movement, and symptoms becoming more severe due to deconditioning.

For me the biggest impact was on my right hip. I had a hip replacement in 2015 due to an arthritis related condition. I had physiotherapy afterwards to build the strength back up in the hip, which is incredibly important to do after the muscles had been disturbed during the surgery. Swimming really helped me to keep that strength up afterwards so I could get the most benefit possible out of the hip replacement, so when I had to stop it was no surprise to me that the loss of muscle started to result in increased pain.

Suddenly everything became more difficult as I struggled to lift my leg to clear steps and stairs. It took me a long time to figure out that it was the lack of movement that was causing the problems, I assumed that it must have been a mechanical issue with the joint. Once I figured out the issue though, I was able to work to improve it myself, even without access to a swimming pool. After speaking to a friend who also lives with chronic pain, and the Leva Clinic physiotherapists, I discovered that a floor pedal exerciser could be a good option for me.

Since then I’ve been trying to use it for about 10 minutes everyday and I really am feeling the benefit. It’s amazing how changing just one small thing about my routine can have such a massive impact on my pain, it’s something I never would have thought of trying myself too.

Of course it’s swimming that I want to get back to the most, but it’s been such a relief to find something that keeps me moving at home. Something that gives me back some control of my chronic pain.

If lockdown has affected your chronic pain then the Leva Clinic team, including the amazing physiotherapists, are ready and waiting to help create your own personalised plan.

If you would like to get in touch with Shona you can follow her on twitter, instagram or drop her a message via her website.